A lot of the story about the Catholic Church today is very negative; people are talking about the crisis we face, the difficulties that we confront and many people are very critical of the bishops and other authorities within the Church.
There are many issues we need to deal with and we have to be honest about the way the influence of the devil within the Church has been very strong. We need to repent and do all that we are required to do in order to move forward and renew the life of the Church.
But there is another story and that is the story of the constancy of Jesus’ presence in the life of the Church. It is recorded in the Gospel that He said ‘I will be with you all the days, even until the end of the world’. That’s not just true for another time, it’s true for our time today and we need to look carefully to see the many ways in which God’s power and grace are available in the contemporary life of the Church.
In our Archdiocese we are going through a wonderful moment of renewal involving all of our people in all of our parishes and communities. Great things are happening because of the influence of God and the power of His grace.
One of the other great things happening is that we are about to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Church which began with a protest made by the monk Martin Luther.
For a long time the Lutheran and the Catholic Churches seemed to be opposed to each other but under the influence of God’s grace, as with the other Christian Churches, there has been a really strong development of our relationship and acknowledgement that all of our lives are centred upon Jesus.
Indeed, there are differences. We know that and we have to live by that but we are committed in the Catholic Church to do all that we can to reunite all Christians everywhere. We can’t wait for that big moment when hopefully God’s grace will be able to fulfil that promise, we have to do all that we can now to work together to honour the Lord to bring honour to his name by the way that we live our lives.
In this Archdiocese we are hosting the national celebrations to commemorate the beginning of the Lutheran Church and there will be a big program of activity between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church. I really want every one of our communities and each one of you to be deeply aware of the wonder of this moment and do all that you can to participate in this occasion.
In our society today there are many people who want to reduce the Christian Church to a non-entity and make it impossible for the Christian Church – of any stripe – to have an influence on the way society works. That’s why it’s so important for all the Christian communities to band together and be strengthened in their way of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and witnessing to Jesus together today.
This is a great occasion and a terrific opportunity for us to acknowledge the wonderful Christian presence of the Lutheran Church in our midst. We can learn from them because of the tremendous way it has been centred on the Word of God in the Bible. This is a big challenge that we, as Catholics, need to face up to and do something about in the future. But at the moment we can admire the Lutherans, learn from them and worship together with them to give thanks to God for his blessings upon us all.